Dance music -- hip-hop, house and their variants -- may have taken over the Top-40 and seems to control a sizable chunk of the cassette and CD market. But the music has a long way to go if it ever hopes to dominate the concert business the way rock and roll currently does.
At least, that was the impression left by the Club MTV Tour, which played to a mostly empty Baltimore Arena last night.
Given the caliber of the performers, you'd think the hall would have been more than merely one-third full. After all, Bell Biv DeVoe, C+C Music Factory and Color Me Badd have all topped the pop singles chart in the last year.
But there's a difference between being good on wax (or whatever the digital equivalent) and being hot on stage, something which became painfully obvious during the performances by C+C Music Factory and Gerardo.
How so? Ironically, because the music was being performed "live" -- that is, with live musicians supplementing the sampled and sequenced tracks -- it lacked the bite and power of the recordings. Thus, the only thing either had in their favor was visual appeal: Freedom Williams' muscled torso, Zelma Davis' skin-tight togs, Gerardo's undulating hips. And though both Williams and Gerardo were able to get the little girls screaming, neither act much moved the crowd.
Tony! Toni! Tone! and Bell Biv DeVoe did, though, largely because those groups performed less like dance show guests and more like R&B bands.